The Excellence in Academic Outreach award honors those who exemplify UT’s land-grant mission by using intellectual capital to benefit the citizens of Tennessee.
Rupy Sawhney, a Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering and a professor of industrial and systems engineering, has developed outreach initiatives that model effective collaboration between universities and local communities. They include the popular Kids U summer program “Do You Want to Be an Engineer?” for middle and high school students and the Lean Enterprise Systems Summer Program, which hosts international students in Knoxville for five weeks to strengthen participants’ multicultural awareness. Sawhney also works to make life better for Knoxvillians with disabilities. Project Eric, named for his student Eric Arendt, resulted in an app that gives disabled citizens the ability to connect with drivers through a preloaded text format that is fully integrated into the public transportation system. He also helped an alumnus with cerebral palsy become more independent by conducting a time-and-motion study that led to the design of a mechanical assistance system. The research from this project has helped in the analysis of other disabilities that affect movement. In 2015, Sawhney was appointed to the Mayor’s Council on Disability Initiatives.